Tuesday 17 March 2015 8:09 am

Lord Ashcroft marginals poll delivers bad news for Cameron’s General Election chances

After two weeks of matching or overtaking Labour in the national polls, the Tories are hoping they will soon reach their much hoped for "crossover" moment, when they can consistently out poll Labour and build some momentum toward victory.

But Tory peer Lord Ashcroft's latest round of polling from the marginal constituencies may dampen Tory hopes of a dramatic turnaround in the polls.

Lord Ashcroft polled constituencies where his previous data suggested close races. It appears Conservative advances on the national stage are not being reflected in many of the key battleground seats.

Only one of the eight seats surveyed, Worcester, showed a Labour lead reversing to a Tory one. In Croydon Central Labour's lead has dropped from six points to four. Southhampton has swung from a tie to an eight-point Labour lead. In all the other seats, Labour has increased its poll lead.

Ashcroft explained his choice of seats:

The seats in question are Southampton Itchen, the closest of the Labour-held seats I have polled; Croydon Central, where I found the smallest Labour lead of any London Tory seat; South Swindon, which was tied in December; and City of Chester, Halesowen & Rowley Regis, Nuneaton, Wirral West and Worcester, where I found Labour leads of between one and three points last October.

According to polling guru Mike Smithson, the main thing to look out for in the Ashcroft poll is the size of the swing. If the swing is below three per cent, is bad news for Labour. However, anything above four, bodes badly for the David Cameron. The swing in the latest round of Ashcroft polling is five per cent from the Conservatives to Labour.

The Conservatives can take some comfort from the fact that two thirds of voters in the seven Conservative-held seats believe the economy will do well over the next year. This figure rose to nine in 10 for Tory voters. 

The last Ashcroft marginals poll showed the two main parties neck and neck. In two of the marginals, Labour was ahead by one point. In the Colne Valley the Tories were up by one point while in the Vale of Glamorgan the Conservatives commanded a six point lead.

Of the 59 Conservative held seats in which Labour is the main opponent that Lord Ashcroft polled as of two weeks ago, Labour and the Conservatives would both win 272 seats each, well short of a working majority.